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Finding Aid to Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., Washington, D.C. Office Records, 1975-2001
BANC MSS 99/282 z  
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Collection Details
 
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., Washington, D.C. Office Records
    Date (inclusive): 1975-2001
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 99/282 z
    Extent: 7 cartons 1 oversize folder 8.75 linear feet
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., Washington, D.C. Office Records [1982 – on-going], depicts the leadership of the organization in the course of their struggle to bring comprehensive civil rights to the disabled community. The bulk of the documentation concerns legislative lobbying and community mobilization through public education and grassroots efforts.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English

    Information for Researchers

    Access Information

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., Washington, D.C. Office Records, BANC MSS 99/282 z, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

    Administrative Information

    The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., Washington, D.C. Office Records were given to The Bancroft Library by Margaret Jakobson, Chair and President of the Board of Directors, on January 9, 1998.

    Scope and Content Note

    The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc., Washington, D.C. Office Records [1982 – on-going], depicts the leadership of the organization in the course of their struggle to bring comprehensive civil rights to the disabled community. The bulk of the documentation concerns legislative lobbying and community mobilization through public education and grassroots efforts.
    DREDF has created a community and established direction for the disability rights movement by organizing groups and individuals throughout the country while negotiating the terminology used to draft legislation and testimony. The organization’s tireless efforts and partnerships with other civil rights groups have brought a greater public awareness to the cause, while constructing much of the legislative language used for the Americans with Disabilities Act. DREDF’s ultimate goal was realized in 1990, after several years of drafting and lobbying endeavors, when the ADA was passed by Congress and approved by President George H. W. Bush. The documents in the collection consist primarily of the working papers and correspondence of Patrisha A. Wright, Director of Governmental Affairs and co-founder of DREDF.
    Buoyed by the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, many of DREDF’s legislative achievements in the 1980’s came as a reaction to growing threats that the rights gained up to that point would be stripped away. Several decisions made by the Supreme Court and local district courts undermined the implementation of disability rights law throughout the country. In January 1981, President Ronald W. Reagan took office and immediately began a campaign to streamline government through deregulation. In order to determine which programs would be effected, Reagan formed the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief. Reagan assigned then Vice-President Bush the role of heading the deregulation effort and Bush, in turn, enlisted executive chief counsel C. Boyden Gray, to implement the process for the administration.
    Early in 1982, a draft of proposed deregulatory changes from the Department of Justice (DOJ) was leaked, quickly falling into the hands of disability rights activists, including Robert Funk and Patricia Wright of DREDF. Three of the initial targets in the push for deregulation were issues close to the heart of the disability community: the Section 504 regulations of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act regulations (later re-named Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA), and the regulations for the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB). The Section 504 regulations, considered to be the ”Civil Rights Law for the Handicapped,” had only been implemented following a long, intense battle, culminating in April 1977 after a nearly month long sit-in by civil rights activists at the San Francisco office of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. DREDF believed that the disability community would suffer dire consequences if the proposed deregulations occurred. Funk and Wright convened a meeting of disability rights organizations, and it was decided that DREDF should lead the fight.
    Another key appointment that Reagan made in 1981 was Justin W. Dart, Jr. as Vice-Chair to the National Council on the Handicapped (which has since become National Council on Disability or NCD). At this time, the NCD was a component of the Department of Education and disability rights law varied widely from state to state. Beginning in late 1982, Dart completed several tours of the country, holding public forums and meeting with activists in every state to discuss the array of issues relating to the disabled.
    By 1983, the Presidential Task Force on Regulatory Relief was disbanded, but in 1984 the impact of Grove City College v. Bell presented additional concerns for the civil rights and disability communities. The case concerned a woman who alleged that her college had discriminated against her based on gender. The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1972 stated that discrimination due to gender was illegal if the institution received federal funds. The court determined that the program that the woman was enrolled in at Grove City College was not in receipt of federal funding, therefore the plaintiff did not have the right to sue. As a direct attempt to counteract the Grove v. Bell decision and guarantee civil rights for everyone, the Civil Rights Restoration Act was introduced into Congress in 1984. This same year, NCD became an independent agency, with attorney Robert L. Burgdorf of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights joining the organization.
    In 1986, during the negotiation period for the Civil Rights Restoration Act, at the request of the President and Congress, NCD published a seminal report, Toward Independence: An Assessment of Federal Laws and Programs Affecting Persons with Disabilities along with Legislative Recommendations. In it, Dart and Burgdorf examined the nature of the treatment of disabled people throughout the country, presenting the notion of a national civil rights policy to end discrimination against disabled persons. The Civil Rights Restoration Act passed in 1987 and the following year NCD issued subsequent analysis entitled On the Threshold of Independence, setting the foundation for the ADA. Congressman Tony Coelho and Senator Lowell Weicker introduced the ADA legislation into Congress in April 1988, presenting compelling evidence that disability law still needed vast improvements to make civil rights available for the entire disabled community. In May 1988, Congressman Major R. Owens established the Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities, with Dart and Elizabeth Boggs acting as co-chairs, to assist Congress in constructing negotiations for the ADA with the disabled community. Concurrently, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 was passed to amend title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, ensuring fair treatment in housing for disabled individuals.
    Legislative documentation and commentary created during negotiations with elected officials and their offices are contained in the records, including: Vice-President/President George H.W. Bush, Rep. Tony Coelho, Rep. John Conyers, Jr., Senator Alan Cranston, Senator Bob Dole, Senator Dave Durenberger, Rep. Don Edwards, C. Boyden Gray, Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins, Senator Steny Hoyer, Senator Daniel Moynihan, Rep. Major R. Owens, President Ronald W. Reagan, Senator Pat Schroeder, Senator Paul Simon and Senator Lowell Weicker. Most notable correspondence is by Congressman Tony Coelho, Senator Tom Harkin, Rep. Augustus Hawkins and Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
    Analysis, testimony, legislative language requests and other documentation from various disability and civil rights groups, federal agencies and others is included from: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD), Americans Disabled For Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT), Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB), Association for Retarded Citizens (ARC), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD), Disability Rights Center (DRC), Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Gallaudet University, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), National Council on Disability (NCD), National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), National Easter Seals Society, Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (PCEPD), Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disability (TFREAD), United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and their Office of Civil Rights (DOJ, OCR), and World Institute on Disability (WID).
    Members of these organizations whose contributions are notably documented in the collection include: Chris Bell, Elizabeth Boggs, Mary Lou Breslin, Robert L. Burgdorf, Timothy M. Cook, Justin W. Dart, Jr., Chai Feldblum, Robert Funk, Lex Frieden, I. King Jordan, Evan Kemp, Jr., Arlene Mayerson, Bonnie Milstein, Sandra Swift Parrino, Elizabeth Savage, Robert Silverstein, Attonrey General Richard (Dick) Thornburgh, and Patrisha A. Wright. Most notable documentation is by Chris Bell, Robert L. Burgdorf, Timothy M. Cook, Justin W. Dart, Jr., Chai Feldblum, Arlene Mayerson, Robert Silverstein, and Patrisha A. Wright.